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3rd Time's A Charm: pregnancy + labour au naturel

Posted by Katie Asplin on
3rd Time's A Charm: pregnancy + labour au naturel
It’s taken me 7 weeks to sit down and write this birthing blog! It could have lots to do with the fact that I’m missing the 4 of the 6 hands I require to wrangle a small army of children, my business (MEE) which is currently in the process of great change and that I’m in a perma-fog from exhaustion!
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This is MY personal journey from a medicalised pregnancy and birthing past to a natural, woman-led finale (i.e: my shop is now shut). My journey may not be for you nor does it mean the way you went through pregnancy and birth wasn’t ‘the right way’. It just means it wasn’t the right way for me. We are all entitled to have our personal journey and I’d love to share mine with you.

​My past pregnancies and births weren’t by any means a bad experience. They were actually pretty great despite a few minor things here and there. At the time, I was much more comfortable with the idea of medicalised pregnancy and birthing care. At that time, I felt I was in the safest hands under the care of a private OB in a hospital setting. The short-term and some long-term recovery after the births of both my babies was a wee bit tough on us all after our birth induction, so I wondered if those could be avoided if I changed a few things if I were to have a future pregnancy. 
As fate would have it, I fell pregnant with Edie. It wasn’t until I could smell and taste rotting citrus in everything and everywhere that I felt like a pregnancy test was warranted. Seems that I’m not alone in experiencing these bizarre hints of early pregnancy! One friend of mine had unintentionally pumped soap on her toothbrush getting ready for work in her fog not once but several times, and vegan friend (6 years in) was intensely jonesing for turkey meat…like the ones at North American Thanksgiving! I had this citrus smell thing happen in my first pregnancy, so I didn’t hesitate too long before peeing on that stick! Surprisingly, the test ended up displaying a big fat obvious +! Boom, I was pregnant, and was already prepared to do this differently this time!!

Thankfully, I didn’t have much to change lifestyle and product wise to keep my “oven” as healthy as possible for my “bun”. A few everyday products that most wouldn’t consider to be potentially ‘suspect’ include makeup, stretch mark aids/mosturisers, deodorant, and household cleaners just to name a few!

Though I already had a foundation for a natural lifestyle, I wanted to get myself through the pregnancy healthy and well prepared for a natural birth, so I did a few things to help pave the way!
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Nausea came reeling in at a whopping 4 days after my initial at home test! I could hardly believe it! How the hell was I going to cope with life if I felt like death at 5 weeks?!! Garlic became my nemesis when pregnant with my girls, although this time it was way more intense! The flashbacks I have of accidentally running into a cloud of raw garlic  just hitting the sizzle of a hot pan nearly brings me to my knees! Oh the dry heaving experienced!!! I wanted to avoid all types of medicines, drugs and antibiotics during this pregnancy which most thought was OTT. Hey, it might have been, but it was easier than you’d imagine with all the great natural practitioners and natural alternatives out there! I decided to try homoeopathy. It’s safe, it’s natural and I’ve heard plenty of success stories! What did I have to lose, except for my lunch?! I was matched with a constitutional remedy for my symptoms. And you know what? It was damn effective at getting me through my days! It certainly wasn’t a magic pill, but it took the edge off and was a safer option in my eyes!​

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Have you ever heard of a vitamin C baby? Well, my sweet babe is my first (and last:-P) vitamin C baby! Our family consumes high doses of vitamin C daily to keep our immune systems strong. I wanted to continue my “C” throughout my pregnancy and had the confidence to do so thanks to the brilliant research of Dr Klenner on Vitamin C therapy during pregnancy. Why? His research found that women had easier, shorter, less painful births, blood haemoglobin levels were easy to maintain, there were no postpartum haemorrhages, the perineum was found to be more elastic, and there were less incidents of leg cramps and stretch marks.  The infants born under vit C therapy were all perfect, pink and robust. There are clearly crazy benefits to the birthing mum and baby. Vit C therapy also combats stress, which I, unfortunately, had a wee bit of….2 young kids, a business and a day job!! Why not, eh? I find it incredibly fascinating that a simple yet vital vitamin could provide so many benefits to mumma-to-be!

In preparing for my natural birth, I decided to study hypnobirthing to help with keeping with my visions of natural birthing and to keep me empowered instead of full of fear. By incorporating this into my birth, it’s meant to reduce the chance of needing any pain aids which can lead to a cascade of interventions. I managed to learn more about my own body listening to 3 chapters of my hypnobirthing audio book than I had ever learned in life, plus some great strategies for my birth, and managing pain and fear during birth, but also in everyday life! My favourite part was learning about how our female body produces birth hormones during the ‘epic event’ to help support our body through the stages, the pain, and even bonding with the baby! You wouldn’t think that I had birthed 2 times before, eh?! I felt like a first time mum all over again with all I had learned. Did you know that the moment any pain intervention (exept for oxygen) or birth-induction drug enters your body, the consequence is the pain-fighting endorphins/adrenaline normally released to help support a woman through birthing are completely annihibited and halted!? It explains so much about the unsupported pain I felt during my inductions, which lead to epis both times. The most saddnening thing I learned from my research is with any intervention during birth, the mumma doesn’t get that oxytocin spike to induce that life-changing, earth shattering, overwhelming feeling of love, otherwise known as ‘the love rush’ when women see their baby in those early moments! How cruel! Well, no bloody wonder I didn’t feel this crazy, ridic love after my 2 previous birthsL Here I have been thinking that something was wrong with me!! Instead, I now know I was robbed, so I was going to work my hardest to not let that happen again.

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​I had already carefully picked a wonderful, very experienced midwife who believes in woman-led birthing, so complementing her expertise with an experienced doula along with my new bag of hypnobirthing techniques would hopefully be the toolkit I needed to ensure the best possible chance of a natural birth. The more I looked into a doula, the more I realised that I needed someone with heaps of experience to be there to keep me calm, grounded and focused on safely keeping on track with my birth plan. In high-pressured/stressful situations, I tend to get overwhelmed in the moment. If you could open my brain, you’d see 2 pinballs spastically zooming around, which means I go from clarity to blank really quickly! As most good husbands do, mine feeds off the wild energy I’m throwing out…the combo ain’t fab! This is where the doula helps us have a positive, calm and safe birth with a side of emotional and phyical support for both the birthing mumma and dad to be. Actually, a Cochrane review published in 2012 found that in labours with the continuous presence of a doula, labouring mummas experience reduced use of induction drugs, decreased rate of interventions during labour, less need for pain medication, less requests for an epi, higher satisfaction with birth outcomes, much lower cesar rate, higher chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth and shorter labour. Can you see why I chose to go this route?

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Birthday! At just over 39 weeks my body started to give me signs that a baby would be arriving. I was nervous because I did NOT know what to expect or even to look for. Positive affirmations….trust my body…trust my body! Despite moments of nervousness, I remained positive and kept on telling myself to have confidence in my body because it knows what to do. Trust me, it did just that. From the wee hours of the night through to the afternoon that same day, my surges were coming and going. My surges were getting slightly stronger towards the late afternoon amongst me tidiying the house, making the kids almond milk, and walking to the store to pick up bread. Late that afternoon my predictions of having a New Year’s Eve baby were in the distance. Shit was getting a bit more real! I calmly laboured at home until I felt that I wouldn’t be turned away for not being dilated enough. I was able to manage the pain with my mind, but also with rythmic swaying and deep breathing. I had a calming blend of essential oils diffusing next to me, a big bottle of water to stay hydrated, and a quiet room to myself. That’s right, as much as my husband would have been supportive, I felt like I could better focus my mind if I was alone. I didn’t even call my doula for hours because I felt in control. That moment of feeling things were ramping up snuck up on me QUICKLY! Kind of like 3 on a scale jumping to 7!

The country roads from my home to the birthing unit were not pleasant on my surging bits! Safety went out the window in those last moments in the car. There I was draping my arms over the back seat as I braced those intense last surges as we arrived.

​My midwife and my doula arrived shortly after us and thankfully so! Things were full on when they arrived, so my midwife suggested jumping in the birthing pool. At that point, I was happy to try anything to manage the increasing discomfort of the surges. Boom, there goes my waters, 10 mins after arriving! My husband is probably praying to the gods that didn’t happen in his car! Just then, the urge to push was drawing nearer. My team was desperately hurrying to get the birthing pool filled in time. It ended up being a bit of a race, but with minutes to spare, I hopped in the pool and then the real party got started! Our little girl was born into this crazy world 5 mins later. With my slippery baby on my naked chest, sourrounded by water, I could barely believe what I had just done. I was exhausted but proud of myself and the perfect, healthy baby we made.

I had no idea how far along I was in the birthing process. I guess I expected worse, which doesn’t mean I didn’t feel pain because I did, but not what I would have imagined. I really believe my entire natural birthing ‘toolbox’ helped me stay calm, focused, and gave me the ability to manage my pain levels to achieve a beautiful natural birth in the presence of my husband, midwife and doula. Everyone helped me out of the tub trying not to tangle me in the dangling umbilical cord still attached to the baby. The flash back was kind of wild because it was just so different to my previous experiences! We headed to the bed to start the process of draining those supersonic stem cells from the placenta into our babe, followed by delivering the placenta with help from the oxytocin rush from her first feed. Just when we think the female body is a curse, you realise in moments like these just how bloody awesome it is to be a woman!

​My birth was gentle, empowering, amazing and incredibly special. I was lucky enough that my birth turned out to be exactly what I wanted without having to consider plan B. Thank you universe and to the law of attraction!! And the best part of it all was finally feeling that rock-your-world, out-of-this-planet, crazy amazing love rush!

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